World View Enterprises said its “Zinger 1” mission to keep a KFC chicken sandwich aloft in the stratosphere was terminated earlier than planned, due to a small leak in an altitude-control balloon system on its Stratollite platform. The company’s CEO, Jane Poynter, said today in a statement that the payload was brought down about 17 hours after the balloon launch on June 29 in Arizona. “Within the first few hours of flight, all system test objectives were met,” she said. Poynter added that the chicken sandwich “performed flawlessly.”
After one weather-related postponement, Arizona-based World View Enterprises sent the sandwich to the stratosphere today from a spot near Page, Ariz., and Lake Powell – mostly as a publicity gambit for the fast-food chain, but also as the first multi-day test mission for World View’s steerable balloon platform.
World View is developing its “Stratollite” balloon system as a low-cost alternative to satellites for Earth imaging, weather monitoring, surveillance and other applications.
“Today’s launch marks a truly historic milestone in our quest to open the stratosphere for business,” World View founder and CEO Jane Poynter said in a news release. “With the maiden voyage of our multi-day mission underway, I am extremely proud of the entire team and all we are learning to make space more accessible. It is especially exciting to have the public along for the ride through our very fun and exciting collaboration with KFC.”
For World View Enterprises, the flight is expected to serve as a four-day shakedown cruise for its “Stratollite” system, which could eventually send military and commercial imaging payloads to the edge of the atmosphere for months at a time.
“When KFC first brought this to us, we had a good chuckle,” World View CEO Jane Poynter told reporters during a teleconference today. But then the Arizona-based company realized there could be a serious point behind the project.
“If you can fly a chicken sandwich to the edge of space … you can fly really just about anything,” Poynter said.